Thursday, April 16, 2020

Cartesians: Letter "R"

Well, here we go again.  This time I somehow landed in the Rs, so I just knocked on ... Romanes, Russell, Russell, Rose, Redmond, Mrs Redmond ...  and here are the results. Distinctly, alas, short of pictures.

Alexander ROMANES (b Scotland c 1851; d ?Woolwich 18 February 1918). This one will be easy, I thought. Name like that has to be real. Well, it was, but .. I didn't realise that 'Romanes' was such a frequent name north of the Hadrianic Wall. 'Alexander's, of course are everywhere, there  (including in my own family tree), so ... where I expected to find one Alexander Romanes, I found a number. Selkirk seems to be hub. But he always just said 'Scotland' so I don't know if he were one of the Selkirk ones. And if, which. They seem to have been a pretty rough lot.
So, I don't catch up with him until he is 39 years old. 1891, in Wigan, with a wife named Marie (b West London) 'actor and actress', with a actor couple from Oldham named Rushton. Boarders. On tour in something. Goodness know what, and how long they've been at it, and where and when and if they were married. Not in the English records.
My first professional sighting is in November 1892, and he's joined the Carte organisation. He's playing John Dory in The Vicar of Bray at Peterborough. The leading man is Fred Pattrick. So the Alexander Pattrick Romanes born to Alexander and Marion at Dudley, Worcs looks as if he belongs to them. I wonder what happened to him. In 1893, Alex sr is touring in Haddon Hall, in 1895 he and MArie are in the chorus of the Lyric Theatre Bric à brac Will, in 1896-7, he's Mons Bonsor with The New Barmaid company, alongside a 'Marie Alexandre' who is possibly his wife, but there are Marie Loreth and Marie Fontaine in then cast as well!
By 1901, he is landlord of the Barrel Inn at Tewkesbury. Son one has disappeared, and they have another son named Jack. Jack turned out to be a bully and a thief, and my last sighting of Alex is in court in 1904, relating the little, uncontrollable, beast's vile doings ... I'm guessing that it is our Alex who died in Woolwich in 1918. Marion at Kingston-on-Thames in 1933. Jack has doubtless ended up where all misfits go.
The archive says that Alex married Carte chorine Marie Ridgway, so I guess that, by any other name, that is 'Marion'. I see a Marie Ridgway singing in Southampton in 1877 with her sister Nellie, and with her brother, pianist and conductor of the local Choral and Orchestral Society, in 1879, in Margate with Sinclair Dunn in 1885, and, with an RAM tacked on to her name, in concert in the Isle of Wight in 1886. Father is a Southampton man, and the local press reports that she got a bronze medal. But what is this? Mrs Margot mother of Marie Ridgway lets theatrical digs in Lambeth ... same one? Marie is at Ventnor in 1889, and Stockton-on-Tees on Good Friday 1890 ... not much time to meet and marry Mr Romanes ...  But there she is in 1894, touring in Utopia (Ltd), then as Mariquita in The Chieftain ... end of story. But since when was Southampton West London? The 1881 census shows Joseph Ridgway musical instrument seller, born Portsea, his wife mother Julia Harriet née Hovus, and children Julia, Nellie, William and Marion Annie (16), all involved in music and all born Southampton ... landlady guessing again in 1891? Grrrr.

So on to [John] Harold RUSSELL (b Pimlico x 9 May 1855)
This particular misfit had every chance. He was born to very notable theatrical parents, John Russell, sometime manager of the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden and the man who brought La Grande-Duchesse to England, and his wife Frances Mary (Fanny) Huddart, Britain's first English Azucena. He started off as a singer about 1878, sang at the Covent Garden Proms (well, he would!) in 1880 and 1881, and then took over from Frank Celli the title-role of Claude Duval. The show promptly closed. In 1882-3 he toured as Hugh Rowley in the Carte tour of Rip van Winkle. Then the faeces hit the fan. And publically, in court. In 1880 (3 March) he had married one Florence Webb. He had maltreated her, slept around with other, money-supplying females ... it made a pretty sad story. And there was a child. He faced it out, and went on tour supporting Henry Ashley as Sergeant Lugg in The Magistrate (1885-6), as Sir Tristram Marden in Dandy Dick (1887-9) and as John Silkstone in The Bells of Hazelmere (1890), and then he disappeared off to Australia. But, apparently, not alone. There was a 'Mrs Russell' with him: Cartesian contralto, Elsie Cameron (Mrs G B Browne). He played two years or so in Australia, then returned to Britain where he went out with a play called The Priest Hunter, followed up as Captain Skinner in a company playing The Silver King (1894-5), as Richard Redcliffe in Alone in London (1896), Sir Richard Aubrey in The Victoria Cross (1896), and Henri de Cocheforêt in Under the Red Robe (1897). I presume it is he, if not another of the same name, playing the Prince of Wales in America, in Charles Coghlan's production of The Royal Box, but weeks later he can be seen in London, and taking up the rounds again in The Ladder of Life on the road. His career probably went on in the same way into the twentieth century, seemingly latterly in America (I see a Harold Russell, aged 60, actor, in a rooming house full of theatricals, in 1915), but I haven't been inspired to follow it further.
Florence? Well, I see her in 1881 living with the Russell family and her ephemeral husband, and in 1901 with her 19 year-old 'actor' son named ... guess what? Claude Harold! In 1911, she says she is a widow and a dressmaker, and Claude Harold (b Clapham 2 October 1881) is now a billiard marker. He is still a billiard marker in 1939, also a widower with a son named ... Harold. He seems to have died in 1943.

The other Russell is Manfred RUSSELL [RUSSELL, Herbert Manfield] (b Albion Rd, Holloway 17 November 1866; d Farley Villa, Malvern Link, Worcs 1 June 1907).
'Manfred' was the son of Henry Russell, a Scots silk agent, and his wife Anne Manfield née White, born in Holloway and brought up in Penge. There is not a lot to say about him. In the 1891 census, he is 24 and living with mother 'on her own means'. From 1895-1902 he is singing with the Carte companies, latterly in first tenor roles. After leaving Carte, he toured in the lead tenor roles of My Lady Molly (1903) and La Poupée (1906). And then he died. Unmarried. Childless. Unpublicised. And unexplained. Aged 40, and with a healthy tenorious career in front of him. I wonder why. Only a death certificate would tell...

Charles [Richard] ROSE (b Devizes, Wilts 9 July 1866; d Harwich 1945) was born to Richard G Rose, wine merchant, and his wife Emma, and seems to have been another who began his singing career with Carte, circa 1889, in the tour of The Yeomen of the Guard. He then joined the Savoy company where he played Francesco in the original cast of The Gondoliers, covering and playing both Marco and Luiz during the run. At the same time, he appeared at a number of small London concerts, and took the role of Bardolph, to the Pistol of Watkin Mills, the Falstaff of Bispham and Ford of Herbert Thorndike to illustrate Mackenzie's lecture on the Verdi opera at the RAM.
After leaving the Savoy, he sang in more concerts ('late of the Savoy'), but returned to the stage in Arthur Rousbey's tour of Wapping Old Stairs, alongside Cissie Saumarez and Nellie Kavanagh (1894). He took part in Willie Edouin's Qwong Hi, and took up the part of Lord Donnybrook in the Frank Danby tour of the hit musical, before quitting England to go to India with the Strand Comedy Company (see Colac Herald 12 November 1897). He married another member of the company, Capetown-born Magdalen Elizabeth ('Madge') Abercromby (d 20 Liverpool Rd, Kingston-on-Thames 8 December 1949).
He set up in Melbourne as a vocalist and singing teacher, sang in local concerts ('Be thou faithful', 'Then shall the righteous', A Summer night', 'Home to our mountains', Faust Garden Scene with Lempriere Pringle, Godard's 'Angels Guard Thee', and appeared in the disastrous local musical The American Girl, which provoked him to another column of newspaper copy, humourously pointing out that he was not a tenor robusto, but a light tenor.
Two daughters, Yootha Madge Millais Rose (b 17 January 1899) and Beryl Phyllis Rose (b 20 February 1900) were born in Melbourne, and the couple stayed in Australia until October 1906 before returning to Britain. Charles worked briefly in the musical comedy The Antelope (1908, Vincent Clive) and, apparently, in minor roles in other pieces during the 1910s. I do not know if he was the Charles Rose who produced A Chinese Honeymoon (1925) for radio, nor the operetta His Majesty's Pleasure (in 1939), but in the 1939 census he insisted that he was 'retired'. He must have just about reached his Golden Wedding (a rarity among Cartesians) when he died in early 1945 at the age of 80.

And now, a Cartesian of great expanse. Tom REDMOND [REDMOND, Thomas Ger(r)ard or Gerald] (b Liverpool 29 January 1857; d Mill Cottage, Udimore, Sussex 9 August 1937) had a career as a perfomer with the Carte companies which stretched over almost a quarter of a century. With, of course, time off for other jobs.

He was born in Liverpool, the son of a seafaring man, Thomas Redmond and his Irish wife Bridget née Kitts, he was brought up as a lithographic printer, but by 1881 he was already describing himself as 'operatic vocalist', which I guess means he was not the Tom Redmond doing backface comickry in Sheerness around that time. I'm also not quite sure who the Mrs Annie Redmond, 21, born Newcastle on Tyne was ... another honorary 'Mrs'? Actually, I do know what he was doing. He was sharing digs with John Child and his family, and that week Child was starring in Charles Bernard's Les Cloches de Corneville company with James Danvers, Wilfred Esmond et al. Tom just hadn't yet risen to billing, but by 1882 he was playing the role of Gobo.
His first appearances with the Carte Co came in 1883, and I'm not going to reproduce the Archive's massive account of his career. I will just mention the bits in between his Carte periods. To wit, the years 1897 to 1906. Which were, as ever, busy ones. In September 1897 he took the part of the Prince of Parma in The Duchess of Dijon, in 1898 he was Sir Jocelyn Parke in The Transit of Venus, both substantial musicals which did not play London. He then moved into a tour of The Geisha, playing the Marquis Imari while his wife was Lady Constance (1898-1900). Ah, the wife: she worked as 'Mary Morison' and was an ex-Cartesian as well. They played together in The Varsity Girl (1900-1) before Tom went into a medicore piece called The Golddiggers, and then took up the role of the Emperor in a tour of A Chinese Honeymoon (1902). At Christmas, he played another Emperor in Aladdin at the Leeds Grand. In 1903 the couple went out in When We Were Twenty-one, in 1904 he was Sir Francis Chesney and she Donna Lucia in Charley's Aunt, and he played Fun on the Bristol and The Earl and the Girl (Mr Hazel) in which Mary took the part of Virginia Bliss. In See-See they played Checo and Poo-See. And then Tom returned to the Savoy Theatre.
however, it was only for a season, and he was soon back on the road, playing long tours for George Edwardes as Nisch in The Merry Widow and Bulger/Conder in The Dollar Princess (1908-1913). In 1916, he took the 'small but rich part' of the taxi-driver in Mr Manhattan, and, in 1918, I see him, finally, touring as Cash in The Boy. The archive tells us that he played in revue through to 1919.
A rich career of some forty years.
The wife? 'Mary MORISON'? Doubtless pseudonymed for the popular song of that title. Well, she was from Glasgow and her birth name was Primrose Henrietta AITKEN (b Glasgow 26 May 1862; d 26 Ashley Rd, Epsom 4 December 1944). Her father obviously went awol pretty soon after her birth because by the time she was 9 she was living in Reading with a new father, surgeon James Pymar Billing (d 9 March 1895) and mother Elizabeth née Cameron, formerly Aitken. She is still there, no mention of singing, in 1881. Rose married, in 1884, a ship's purser named Robert Dundas McCallum who was lost at sea the following year (17 February 1885). She became 'Mary Morison' joined the D'Oyly Carte organisation, where, between 1891 and 1896 she played good parts and covered leading roles. In 1897, she went out on tour with Dandy Dan the Lifeguardsman, and married Tom Redmond. Thereafter, she played seemingly only alongside of him, especially in the classy society ladies' roles of Owen Hall and imitators.

Bedtime.  If anyone has some photos of these chaps, it would be nice to have illustrations!

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